Cultural Cape Town

So finally on Sunday 11th March, Chris and I finally set off to Heathrow. We’d decided in Summer 2017 that we wanted to do something to celebrate our 30th birthdays, especially with them only being 3 months apart. We wanted a trip of a lifetime, Chris had always wanted to go to Cape Town but it had never been high on my list. However we both wanted to go on safari so decision made – Africa it was!

I didn’t have much idea on where to start with planning as I didn’t know much about Cape Town or South Africa. I decided to speak with a few travel agents, the thinking was that they could point us in the right direction. As we wanted to do the trip nicely we knew it was going to be a blow out, so I could take the tips and rough itinerary and plan it at a cheaper cost!

However, I was blown away by the service from Jo at Imagine Africa and how well she listened to what we were after. I decided to book through Imagine Africa as it just made life easier! From researching it was going to be difficult to actually do the trip much cheaper. It also gave us the safety if anything went wrong, which was always a risk with moving around so much.

Our itinerary was as follows –

Cape Town was beautiful and was so much more than I was expecting! The vibe around the city was incredible and full of so many friendly people. I’d been ‘warned’ by quite a few people to stay safe, and given ridiculous advice such as not to stop at traffic lights when we had the car! Although the poverty was obvious (huge shanty town outside the airport and a number of homeless people on the streets), I never felt unsafe…and I even stopped at red traffic lights, crazy eh!? We were sensible, like when in London (or anywhere) and followed the advice from the hotels to use taxis after dark. Unlike London, Uber was actively promoted and we used it loads to whiz around after dark.

Cape Town was exceptional value for money and we ate and drank like kings! All the food was fabulous and I can safely say that we didn’t have a bad meal at all! Most of our evening meals came in at under £50 and that included bottle of wine and usually a few cocktails too! All the restaurants were geared up for allergies and often the menu included all this information as standard.

What we did:-

The flight is approximately 11 hours from LHR, but as it’s a night flight and with only a 2 hour time difference you wake up feeling relatively refreshed. We flew business class so the flatbed definitely helped, and if you plan on hitting the ground running then I would recommend doing the same.

Day 1 was spent relaxing and enjoying the super 32c weather 🙂 A nice touch from Jo at the travel agency as we had a bottle of champagne waiting for us at our hotel in Camps Bay! We simply enjoyed the view and the wine!

Dinner was at The Bungalow which was recommended by the hotel and what a recommendation! Eating on the beach in Cape Town really is something special. Although the sunset round 19.30 and we ate 20.30, it was warm and relaxing to hear the sea. Fab meal and incredible value – review towards the end of the post!

V&A Waterfront

The following morning we moved to Four Rosmead which was to be home for the next 5 days. In the Gardens district and close to the popular and vibrant Kloof St, Four Rosmead is in a wonderful location on the slopes of Table Mountain. We did enjoy a night in Camps Bay but it did feel a little further out and more of a beach resort – we preferred being in the thick of it! Our room was across from the main 1903 house with a lovely private garden. We walked the one hour to the V&A Waterfront along Long St taking in the coffee and bar culture along the way. To be honest, I had expected slightly more from the V&A Waterfront as it is really sold as a Cape Town attraction, but it simply is the waterfront with places to eat and drink. It was also a tad on the rainy side when we got there so felt like a bit of an anticlimax. However, we did grab a great meal at Mondiall and cracked on with some excellent people watching!

We did return a few days later when the sun was shining as we had a reservation at The Silo Hotel roof top bar.  A new luxury hotel on the V&A Waterfront situated above the Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, this is place to be seen in Cape Town!! The roof top bar is open for guests and those with advanced reservations (so make sure you book!) and it’s well worth it for the incredible views of the Waterfront and of Table Mountain.

District Six

The middle of the week was very interesting and we did a lot of walking! We kick started the day with a much needed coffee from Truth before heading to the District Six Apartheid Museum. Once a vibrant part of Cape Town with close proximity to the Port, the sixth municipal of Cape Town was soon included in the process of marginalisation and removal in the early twentieth century. The museum is housed inside the former Methodist Church, with interiors from the district which have been recreated along side photos and testimonials of former residents. It’s hard not to find this visit emotional, especially when speaking to the staff about their experiences.  Guided tours are offered for a small additional fee (leaving on the hours) and I would strongly recommend as it gives so much insight into the life in the district.

Following the museum we walked around the surrounding area and took in the Woodstock Street Art. We continued walking down Albert Road to The Old Biscuit Mill. A nice surprise on the way was The Woodstock Foundry, full of eateries, coffee roasters and creative studios. I was taken in by the jewellery studios of Dear Rae from the road and in we went! I purchased a sterling silver necklace and bracelet at a bargain price!

The evening meal was at The Twelve Apostles, close to where we had stayed on the first evening. Voted Africas 2nd best city hotel in 2017, the hotel was constantly coming up on my research as somewhere to eat and watch the sunset. Sods law that we book the only evening we are in Cape Town where it rains then!! I had expected to be blown away by the food and although the food was nice and still good value, it did feel the setting was stuffy and aimed at rich Americans.

Cape Point and Boulders Beach

We hired a car for a few days and decided to drive down to Cape Point ourselves rather than to do a day trip. We headed to Camps Bay and carried on past the Twelve Apostles Hotel to Lllandudno and the Hout Bay onto Chapmans Peak Drive. The wonderful 5km coastal drive that links Hout Bay and Noordhoek is out of this world! The views are incredible and it’s worth the minor toll charge to drive along. It was however very windy so watch out when you get out to take some photos along the way!

It took us just short of 2 hours to drive down to the car park at Cape Point. Cape Point is a section of the Table Mountain National Park and includes a number of fantastic walks and sites (there is a small fee to enter). The car parks is near the main visitors centre and Flying Dutchman Funicular, but it is packed with all the other tourists and day trippers! Just a tip – watch out for the baboons!

We had hoped to walk down to the Cape of Good Hope, however neither of us were feeling well so we had to skip on the 1hour 30mins walk. Instead we decided to take the Flying Dutchman Funicular up to the lighthouse. It was a pretty short walk (which we could have done but walked down), but when in Rome we thought we’d give it a go! Ironically this lighthouse was built too high and often couldn’t serve its purpose as it was covered by mist! After wandering back down, we continued to potter about the National Park before heading off.

Then onto Simon’s Town for some lunch before seeing the penguins. Simon’s Town is a naval base so on the waterfront is not the picturesque but the small high street has a wealth of places to eat. We went for Lighthouse Cafe (Lonely Planet recommendation) which was incredible value for money! Chris went for a pesto pasta dish and I went for the chickpea burger (without the bun).

Stuffed fully of food and off we went to Boulders Beach, about 5mins away from the main drag of Simon’s Town. We arrived later in the day around 4.30pm so had missed most of the coach parties and crowds. I’d recommend going first thing or last thing like we did unless we want to be part of the herd! For a £3.50 charge and you’re in to visit the colony of 2100 Africa Penguins! A boardwalk runs from the visitors centre entry all along to Boulders Beach (make sure you keep your ticket as you’ll need this to get in again!). Here you can get down on the beach and hang out closely with the guys (and go for a swim too – but don’t pet them!). The whole colony was been bred from just two breeding pairs in the 1980s and are sadly an endangered species 🙁

I literally could have spent hours at this place but Chris dragged me away for our dinner reservation!

BoKaap and Company’s Garden

We had one day where we decided to just walk and see where we ended up. At the bottom of Kloof Street is Company’ Gardens, first cultivated by the Dutch East India Company for water, which finally led to the creation of fountains. Now it’s a public garden with a huge amount of plants and home to the National Library of South Africa. Company’s Gardens allows for a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town! It’s nice just to potter about the botanical gardens and park and enjoy an ice cream!

I’d seen all the Instagram pictures of the colourful BoKaap so wanted to take a look. The bright colours are relatively knew to the area, with the most vibrant being Chiappini, Rose and Wale. Originally this area, the ‘upper cape’ was a garrison for soldiers before freed slaves started to settle. Parts of Bo Kaap are obviously poor and very run down so best to stick to the main streets.

We also pottered down to Greenmarket Sq which hosts a daily market. I had hoped it would be more local crafts and less tourist souvenirs but unfortunately it was more the latter. We also walked around the walls of the Castle of Good Hope before having a few drinks on Shortmarket St.

Table Mountain

We delayed our trip up Table Mountain several times due to the wind! I hadn’t appreciated how windy it gets and the cable car was closed for two of the days we were in Cape Town. I would strongly recommend booking your cable cart tickets in advance as the queues are huge!!! We got there for when the cable cart opened at 8am and did whizz up pretty quickly. However, going even 15minutes later and the queue is well over two hours so make sure you get you hotel to check the queue before you leave! I’d also recommend getting an uber to the lower cable car station rather than the bus or driving and parking.

The view from the flat top mountain is incredible and so much better than I thought! The mountain is just one part of the national park and you could spend days just walking around enjoying the wildlife and plants. We had planned to walk up Signal Hill for sunrise but as we had to move the day we’d planned to go up, we unfortunately didn’t have time as we needed to set off to Franschoek.

We’d booked to abseil down the available 200m or so down Table Mountain with Abseil Africa (which is also weather dependent). We had got to the top of Table Mountain much earlier than we had thought, but the abseil company were pretty flexible so we were able to straight away. There were two lines so Chris and I were able to go down together! I was bricking it, and I did feel the safety brief was a tad laid back! But we were 100% safe and off we went. Annoyingly we’d forgotten the go pro (which could have been strapped to the front), but the company take your photo before you go and post it on their Facebook group (as nice touch to not have to pay for it!).

The last 100m or so is just a drop with no mountain-face, which isn’t mentioned when you set off! So it did come as a bit of a shock! Once we’ve been winched down to the bottom by the abseil staff, it’s a 40 minute walk back up to the top of the Table Mountain plateau and the cable cart back down. You do want good walking shoes for the walk back up as the path is (as expected) pretty rough!

Here’s a few of where we ate-

The Bungalow, Clifton, Cape Town – meal cost £56

Superb meal practically on the beach! Couple of cocktails, bottle of white white, fillet steaks each! Outstanding and fabulous setting with outdoor (but sheltered) seating. Great first meal of the holiday!

Test Kitchen, Cape Town

Pot Luck Club, Cape Town

Bacinis, Kloof St, Cape Town

Nice Italian at the top of Kloof St near to our B&B. A wonderful people watching spot on the veranda!

Da Vincis on Kloof, Cape Town

Simple pizza restaurant with a few locations around the city. We ate on Kloof St, cheap and cheerful with a Tuesday night offer and gluten free base for me 🙂

V&A Food Market

Housed in the Waterfront’s old power station on the iconic V&A front, the building houses a variety of around 50 independent food and drink stands!

Mondiall, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

A fairly generic steak place on the Waterfront which was good value for the location. Service was fab and the wine was great!

Where we drank –

Rooftop Bar, The Silo Hotel, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

Fabulous for a drinks or light bite and a different way to enjoy the V&A waterfront. You do have to prebook if you aren’t a hotel guest!

The Botanical Bar, Cape Town

A really unusual concept but was fabulous! Along with the usual drinks at the bar, this place creates it’s own botanicals which you can opt for and either have with soda or not! I went for the shrubs botanicals that was on offer with soda which was refreshing and fab with gin!

Truth Coffee, Cape Town

Various locations throughout Cape Town, superb coffee and great value!

House of Machines, Cape Town

Great place to grab a coffee, cocktail or enjoy some live music. In the thick of it at Shortmarket St so make sure you swing by!

Outrage of Modesty, Cape Town

An incredible immersive drinking experience, completely unique! You’re presented with a board with several scents (lavender, green tea etc), the scent you like the most has a corresponding cocktail. I loved it but Chris wasn’t set on it and unfortunately there are no other drinks options. So just the one of us and the off elsewhere.

Kloof Street House, Cape Town

Set in a fabulous townhouse, it reminded me almost of a members club in Soho. A wander through a wonderful garden takes you into the eclectic house with quirky decor and great vibe. We just went for a few cocktails and enjoyed some live music.

 

As always these are my own opinions, and apologies for the slightly longer post! 🙂